Sunday, March 28, 2021

Planning a Party - Week of Mar. 22nd

"Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now."  ~Alan Lakein 

The author Peter Graham said this about becoming immersed in a good book: "We become the hero or heroine.  We are the ones who thwart evil.  We laugh as we socialize with characters we have never met but feel they are as close as our family.  We cry when we lose a good friend."

At school, Cam's class has been reading "Because of Winn-Dixie" and the teacher is weaving lessons and assignments as an outcome.  In the book, the main star is Opal.  Near the end of the story, she plans a party.  The class assignment was to design their own party with all of the particulars.  The following is Cam's proposal.

  • Time/Place: Cam's house at 2:30pm
  • 5 people you will invite: Mom, Dad, Brody, Mrs. Wells, Oliver
  • Activities at Party: We will play Uno and play Yahtzee and we will watch The Greatest Showman and go on a walk.
  • Other Items Needed: Toys, Games
  • Food: Drink and dessert, fruit, chicken tenders, cupcakes, fries, water.
On the weekend, we headed over to Brody's Be Café to help dismantle the outdoor igloos and place them in hibernation for the spring and summer.
Brody's mom, Jenny, and owner of the café was very happy to see Cam.  He was ready to assist so a wagon was affixed to the back and loaded up so he could take trips to the dumpster across the parking lot.  Jenny told Cam that he would absolutely be hired when he turns 16!  In the meantime, volunteers are always welcome.

Every weekday morning, Cam heads out quite early (6:40a) with Chris to make the trek down our long driveway to meet the school bus.  We believe Cam is "larger than life" but this snapshot truly depicts that in his enormous shadow!

GVSU Public Radio (click here)  Jane was interviewed about Cam on local public radio to discuss MI-UCP.

Camology Quotes:

We know that it must seem at times that Cam is always a happy, go lucky kiddo.  Like every individual, he has his moments. One of his greatest strengths is his ability to be honest and forthright.  For an in-school assignment this week, the kids were asked to write about what makes them sad.  This was Cam's typed entry.
When I feel Sad
Cam- 3/26/21
I get sad when I throw a fit.  I also get sad when I yell at my parents.  My parents don't like when I yell.  I get sad when my parents are made at me.  I get sad sometimes.

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Spring has Sprung - Week of Mar. 15th

"No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn."  ~Hal Borland 

Spring cleaning is a physical purge of items but can also refer to refreshing your mind and attitude.  

With our area of Michigan experiencing some unseasonably warm weather, it was the perfect week to tackle both aspects.

First up was the outdoor area.  Cam and his dad gathered up all of the driveway markers set up for winter snow plowing as guides.  These are intended to keep Chris on the driveway instead of the lawn during snow removal time.  As a family, we all agreed we would not experience another storm of the white stuff this spring...fingers crossed.  It was such a nice, pleasant day making sunglasses a pre-requisite for hanging out.

On the inside, a long-awaited adjustable bed arrived for Cam.  He was evaluated in December and through the process of insurance approval and amendments, it was a three-month journey.  We weren't notified in enough time to move out his current bed, so the new bed remained in our living room for a day.  Stella, our cat, seemed to assume her endorsement was required.  She proceeded to jump up and sniff away.

Sometimes, Cam has a hard time accepting what is provided to him.  He asked if someone else could use the adjustable bed more.  We explained to him that his doctors felt that the bed would help him have more comfortable rest.  Fortunately, Cam was also ready to give away the piece he had been sleeping on.  The trundle bed he slept in for the last 8+years was a welcome donation to his buddy Liam and brother David.  

At NHMS, Cam took part in an organized game of kickball in the school gym.  With his powered wheelchair, or powerchair as we call it, he is able to drive while in standing mode.  While some may view driving combined with playing as an unfair advantage, this smiling kid is overjoyed to be a part of it all!

Camology Quotes:

We have said that Cam has an internal clock.  He seems to instinctively know when it's time for meals and activities.  Sometimes though, even inherent timing takes a break.
Cam, it's time to start getting ready for bed.
"You've got to be kidding me!"

Sunday, March 14, 2021

All About Cam - Week of Mar. 8th

At some point in the last 13 years, Chris and Jane took on new names.  In addition to work roles and community projects, the most important titles they now have are "Cam's mom" and "Cam's dad" which is how they are known when being introduced to people they have never met but who have come in contact with their son.  Cam's parents humbly and proudly accept these titles.

An online publication reached out to Jane for a phone interview due to the feature video and story of Cam on the MI-UCP website.  The story below is written by Maryalene LaPonsie.  We think she did a great job of capturing our family story.  Click here to read the story online

Area Family Featured as MI-UCP Success Story 
posted 03/11/2021 Maryalene LaPonsie -  Unsung Heroes

As a 7th grader in the Forest Hills Public School District, Cameron Weatherford gets to experience life in a unique way. Like many of his classmates, he’s enrolled in choir and robotics and has spent time in the pool for swimming lessons. He’s a fan of the beach, loves to laugh and enjoys dressing up for Halloween as much as the next kid. However, Cam, as he’s known to friends, has cerebral palsy, and that means he is taking a somewhat different road through life – a road he travels with his power wheelchair. Living with a disability can be challenging, but Cam and his parents, Chris and Jane, have encountered many people and organizations who help lighten the load by providing support and resources. MI-UCP, formerly United Cerebral Palsy of Detroit & Michigan, is one of those organizations. Offering a portal of resources to families on issues such as guardianship, insurance and finances, MI-UCP has helped in the Weatherford family learn and adapt to life with cerebral palsy. Recently, the family was named a MI-UCP Success Story, and Cam is now featured on the organization’s website. 

Disorder Affects Ability to Move 
Cerebral palsy is one of the most common motor disabilities in childhood, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It’s a disorder that makes movement difficult. Some people, with minor cases of cerebral palsy, may have an awkward gait but otherwise not have any outward sign of a disability. Others may never walk independently and need a wheelchair for mobility. Cerebral palsy can also be accompanied by other conditions such as seizures, an intellectual disability or problems with vision, hearing or speech. The cause of cerebral palsy is usually not known, but Jane Weatherford stresses it’s not a disease you can catch. In Cam’s case, he was born premature at 30 weeks via an emergency c-section. That may have caused the cerebral palsy, but there is no way to know for sure. “We tend to lean on the positive side of life,” Jane explains. Rather than dwell on the how and why, the family focuses on the here and now. She says disability or not, “You love your child unconditionally.”

Community Support: To Give and To Receive 
Over the years, the Weatherford family has been given the opportunity to meet amazing people and make a difference in the lives of others. “Mary Free Bed became a vital part of our existence,” Jane notes. The family encountered fabulous therapists there who have helped address Cam’s motor control issues. To give back, Jane has coordinated a Halloween Heroes event at the hospital for the past five years. While the event couldn’t occur last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it typically involves volunteers making up to 30 costumes for those in wheelchairs. Children choose whatever costume they would like, and the sky is the limit. Then, everyone celebrates the holiday with a special parade to show off their costumes. Jane says, “That has been the most rewarding project I have ever worked on in my life.” Meanwhile, Alternatives in Motion was a much-needed ally while the family worked to get insurance coverage for Cam’s power wheelchair. “The insurance game is ridiculous,” according to Jane. “It was a one-year journey to get a power wheelchair.” For now, Cam enjoys spending time with his good friend Brody Cole, who is the namesake for Brody’s Be Café in Ada. He has also connected with the therapy program at Grand Valley State University where he earns a paycheck for his work with students there. However, the future holds unknown challenges, particularly since Cam is an only child. “We were very concerned about what it will be like when he gets older,” Jane says. That’s where MI-UCP was able to help. The organization offers a comprehensive portal of information as well as services such as benefits counseling, grants for assistive technology and a representative payee program. 

Acceptance and Inclusion for Everyone 
Raising a child with a disability can be challenging for parents, and Jane says nothing is more welcome than a smile and hello from others. It can be an isolating experience to be out and about and feel as though people avoid you because they don’t know what to say or do. She encourages people to take the time to greet children with disabilities in the same way they would reach out to any other child they encounter in the store, at the playground or elsewhere. Even if the child doesn’t respond to your greeting, the adult with them with undoubtedly appreciate the gesture. “Guaranteed: you’ll be making that parent’s day,” Jane says. Kindness won’t erase the difficulties associated with a disability, but don’t underestimate its positive impact. Visit the MI-UCP website to read more about Cam’s story and see photos of the family in action. MI-UCP has also put together the following video highlighting the Weatherford family. 

Camology Quotes:

We often refer to Cam as our personal project manager.  If you tell him something needs to be done, let's just say he will not let you forget about it.  When he asked about our tax return, we told him we had plenty of time to get to it.  Every evening this week, the same conversation ensued.
"Mom, we need to do taxes.  When are we going to do taxes?"  "Let's do taxes now."
We will get them done.  I think your dad is doing something else right now.
"But we must do our taxes.  There is a deadline."
Yes but that is not for another month.
*Weekend update:  Cam wins.  Taxes were completed and submitted online Saturday afternoon.  We made certain Cam was a witness.

Sunday, March 7, 2021

The Patient with Patience - Week of Mar. 1st

Patience is not simply the ability to wait - it's how we behave while we're waiting. ~Joyce Meyer 

A.A. Milne, the author of Winnie the Pooh is credited with the quote, “Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day.”  

Being patient seems to be a resounding lesson we are all struggling with on a daily basis.  Of course, there are times when it's easier to wait than others.

Nearly every week, Cam and Jane drive to the Center for Physical Rehabilitation where Cam has physical therapy.  This Thursday was no different as they entered the building.  Patrick, Cam's physical therapist, is a very popular PT and sometimes he is finishing with a client or answering questions for someone else.  Jane and her son are usually greeted by Carrigan who told Cam that he is the nicest person she sees every week.  Near the end of Cam's session, Jane was called over because Patrick had an unexpected surprise for Cam.  He told him that he was so impressed by his willingness to wait that he decided to make Cam his very own award: "For Cam, the most patient Patient!"  Upon arrival home, the blue ribbon accolade was placed in a pivotal spot next to baseball medals.

On Saturday, we ventured over to Brody's Be Café.  Even though Cam and Brody see each other every day at school, it seems extra awesome to unexpectedly run into each other on the weekend.

The boys ate lunch together and chatted about random things.
We tasted a delicious mint shake which was a new concoction the café was trialing.  We highly recommend any item at Brody's Be, but Cam and Jane are pretty partial to a minty flavor.
The remainder on the weekend centered around a project Chris is working on for our home gym.  As always, Cam is the appointed safety supervisor and ever present helper, ensuring his dad stays on task and remains out of harm's way.

We are seeing signs of spring already in the first week of March... the birds singing quite loudly in the morning and the wildlife congregating in our backyard.  It is a reminder that seasons do change if we can all just find a little patience.

Camology Quotes:

Jane and Chris take turns reading a different book with Cam at bedtime.  Jane and Cam are currently reading Henry Huggins.  Anytime Cam hears a phrase or word he isn't familiar with, he immediately asks.  In the book, Henry was talking to another boy and using a somewhat "old-fashioned" phrase.
"Mom, what does none of your beeswax mean?"
It means "none of your business" or "pay attention to your own things"
"Is that figurative language?"
Cam, where did you learn about figurative language?
*laughing* My teacher Mrs. Wells of course!

Friday, March 5, 2021

I Have A Question - Week of Feb. 22

"Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow.  The important thing is not to stop questioning." ~Albert Einstein

"The art and science of asking questions is the source of all knowledge." ~Thomas Berger

Cam has always been curious.  Over the years, he has developed a habit of declaring he has a question prior to actually asking it.  It may seem redundant but in actuality it helps you pay attention to what's coming next.  During the drive home from his weekly PT appointment he said, "I have a question."  "Why do the lights automatically turn on in the car dashboard?"  And sometimes he will input his keen answer by responding himself with yet another question... "Is it because there is a sensor?"

At school, the class has been reading "Because of Winn-Dixie" by Kate DiCamillo.  The themes include friendship, loneliness and courage.  In the book the main character, Opal, asks her dad to tell her 10 things about her mom and she writes them down.  One of the class assignments was for each student to write 10 things about their own mothers.  Here is Cam's list:

  1. Favorite color is pink
  2. She is nice
  3. She is kind
  4. She makes good dinner
  5. She likes hanging out with me
  6. Likes to watch movies
  7. She likes to dance
  8. Listening to music
  9. Helping me with work
  10. Hanging out with people

Jane was very touched and impressed since she and Cam had never talked about these things specifically.

On Saturday, we had made plans to visit
Oma and Opa.  They told us it may be our last chance to see the ice on Lake Michigan because it was disappearing quickly.  Since it has been a fairly mild winter, it was truly the least amount of ice we have ever seen on the lake in February.

Even though it was windy and a bit cooler, the sun felt warm.  We enjoyed lunch as a family and then worked on small projects together.  

Chris set the drone off flying and took some amazing pictures of the water's edge and the shoreline.

The time always goes by quickly and we always leave smiling.

Camology Quotes:

After finishing the 'Winn-Dixie' book, the kids also watched the movie "Because of Winn-Dixie" during school and then had discussions following.  At bedtime that evening, this conversation took place.
"I have a question.  Mom, have you ever seen the movie 'Because of Winn-Dixie'?"
No, Cam.  I have seen a lot of movies but I've never actually seen that one.
"I think if you think about it long enough you will remember that you've seen it."